World Breastfeeding Week runs every year from the 1st to the 7th August. This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.
‘A shared responsibility’ means it’s up to all of us – from breastfeeding parents, to peer support groups, IBCLCs, maternity nurses, GPs, health visitors, nurses, paediatricians, midwives, businesses, employers, friends and communities – to protect breastfeeding.
On a global scale, “breastfeeding is one of the best investments for saving lives and improving the health, social and economic development of individuals and nations” (WABA, 2021)
Lots of people worry that there’s not much they can do to support breastfeeding. You don’t need to be a peer supporter or a lactation expert or even work with babies or have children of your own to support breastfeeding.
Here are some options to consider for how you can take part in World Breastfeeding Week 2021.
Engage: Go to a breastfeeding group!
If you are a breast or chestfeeding parent, attendng a support group can seem a little daunting at first, especially if you are having problems with breastfeeding. But peer to peer groups can help you troubleshoot feeding problems, and offer you the emotional support you may be looking for. And you don’t need to be having problems to go to a group! Many parents attend breastfeeding groups for the social aspect. Or, if you’re pregnant and hoping to breastfeed, go along and get some information and chat to other parents about their experiences to help you feel more prepared.
If you are not a parent, or if your children are grown and flown the nest, whether they were breastfed or not, donate to your local breastfeeding group. Know where they are and how to signpost to them if you meet someone who needs help.
Galvanise: Set up your own support group
If you don’t have a local support group, start your own! Breastfeeding support is a vital public health responsibility, and together we can make a difference to families who want to breastfeed. Ask in your local facebook group, talk to other families, do some research and see what is available. All you need is a space you can all meet and feet through the door! Breastfeeding groups across the country are held in church halls, community centres, town halls, soft play centres, parks and cafes. Find a space that works for your community and go for it!
If you’re not a parent but you are a local business that can help provide this space, go for it! Or be the group’s sponsor!
Engage: Take a brelfie!
Normalising breast and chestfeeding is so important to help inspire others to breastfeed and change the stigma around breastfeeding in public. Brelfies, or “breastfeeding selfies”, are a great way to show the world how proud you are of your breastfeeding journey. Don’t forget to set it to public and use the world breastfeeding week hashtags (listed at the end of the page!) so others can see it. You never know who may be inspired to give it a go after seeing your great example!
If you see someone else sharing their story or their brelfie, leave an encouraging comment to let them know how great they are for being brave and congratulate them for reaching their breastfeeding goals. Breastfeeding is a marathon – we all need people cheering us on as we pass each milestone – your kind comment could be just the thing a parent needs to spur them on to the next stage.
Inform: Make or share a social media post in support of World Breastfeeding Week
Some people may be too shy to take a brelfie or feel uncomfortable sharing breastfeeding images and that’s ok too. Follow your favourite pages on social media such as @babyemuk and share their World Breastfeeding Week posts. Write about your experience and who supported you and what helped you reach your goals. Telling your story is important – it shows others that breastfeeding is possible and helps build an international community of people who are willing to help protect breastfeeding.
Engage: With local organisations.
Ask your local café or leisure centre what commitments they will make to being breastfeeding friendly and protecting breastfeeding families. In the UK, the law protects you to breastfeed wherever your baby is legally allowed to be (yes, that includes in the swimming pool!)
If you run a local business, join a Breastfeeding Friendly Scheme so that your service users know they are supported to breastfeed in your establishment. If you are an employer, ensure you have a safe space for your staff to express and store their milk, and support them to do so. Employees that are unable to take time to safely express risk mastitis – which is a serious illness – meaning more time off and more hours lost. Protect your employees by supporting their legal right to breastfeed.
Galvanise: Talk to your MP and local health services
Ask them what they are doing to protect and support breastfeeding both locally and nationally. Consider their responses when it’s time to go to the polls. If they are not going to act in the best interests of public health, do you want to vote for them?
Galvanise: Support organisations that help protect parents from dangerous misinformation and industry marketing.
Donate to, and support charities such as Baby Milk Action, the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, First Steps Nutrition Trust, and The Breastfeeding Network and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) . Your donations to these organisations help them provide vital support for families, invest in breastfeeding programmes, and provide essential services and information that help parents continue to breastfeed.
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